Classic Albums Live features music of the Eagles



Modern-day orchestra does band’s music note-for-note Friday at Victoria Theatre.

Some people hear the Eagles and think, “Oh, just another old school rock band.” Not Classic Albums Live founder Craig Martin, who recognizes the group and its contemporaries as the creators of the contemporary 20th century repertoire. His Canadian outfit, presenting the Eagles’ “Hotel California” at Victoria Theatre in Dayton on Friday, Nov. 18, has specialized in note-for-note, cut-for-cut recreations of classic albums since 2003.

“I started CAL because I wanted to carry the music and make sure it moved on through generations,” Martin said. “These records are classical music. They have endured for 50 years-plus so it’s music that’s going to be with us for the rest of our lives and with generations to come. We’ll certainly still be performing it. We’re going into our 20th year now so we’re an institution.

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“We govern ourselves like an orchestra,” he continued. “I predict Classic Albums Live, ultimately, will be the lone place for authentic reproductions of these works in the future. I call CAL the greatest musicians playing the greatest music in the greatest venues to the greatest people. We are the modern-day orchestra.”

Respecting the source

While there is a proliferation of tribute acts working today, Martin stresses Classic Albums Live is an entirely different animal.

“Oh, man, everywhere I go now, we’re just inundated with tribute bands and it’s four guys in jeans doing a tribute to the Rolling Stones,” he said. “A lot of these cats should be working at Burger King and not on stage. In my opinion, they just don’t put the time and effort into the musicianship, which is alarming to me. This is the music we grew up with and it’s sacred to so many of us.”

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Classic Albums Live has several dozen specialty shows dedicated to critically and commercially successful recordings like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” “Let It Be” by the Beatles and Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Martin admits “Hotel California” is a personal favorite.

“It’s my teen years, man, wrapped up in one album,” he said. “I’m 61 so I was about 15 or 16 when this album came out. It spoke about so much. You know, you’ve got political issues, love issues and metaphysical issues all in play in one album. ‘Hotel California’ covers a complete gamut. No other album is like it in that sense and that’s why the Eagles are America’s greatest band by far.”

Rock ‘n’ roll singalong

“Hotel California,” released in December 1976, was the fifth album from the Eagles. It was a game changer for the well-established West Coast band and went on to sell more than 30-million copies. It had ballads, rootsy, acoustic songs and searing rockers, most topped off with the group’s distinctive harmonies.

“Those harmonies, man, that’s like a university course to get those right,” Martin said. “We spent so much time on those harmonies. They’re really tough but we got them. That’s our thing, note-for-note, cut-for-cut, so we got it. The thing I love most about ‘Hotel California’ is everybody that comes to the show sings along. We all know all the words.

“We have like a nine-piece band for the Eagles show,” he continued. “I don’t have the exact number in front of me but you need extra singers to get those harmonies. You need at least three guitars to get that album done properly. You can expect a second set that will have your feet tapping and singing along. You’ll be rocking in your seat.”

No encores allowed

Martin stresses, when the final note of the set has ended, the show is over. There are no encores.

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“We got rid of that whole idea of hiding behind the curtain and you guys are going to clap like trained seals, and we’re going to come out and be surprised,” he said. “Doing encores just seems so silly to me so we got rid of that. We just announce to the audience, ‘This is our last song.’ We were the first one to start doing albums and we were the first to start presenting them like an orchestra.

“Now, I’m starting to see more and more people copy this business model I created,” Martin added. “It’s my prediction that in the years to come, you’ll see so many bands saying, ‘This is our last song, we’re not going to do an encore,’ I guarantee it. (laughs) I want it on record here with our friends in Dayton, Ohio, that I started it.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


What: Classic Albums Live presents “Hotel California”

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18

Cost: $25-$40

More info: 937-228-3630 or

Artist info:

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